Friday, March 01, 2013

Sequestration Day = Citizen's Screwed, Elected Officials Safe - Time to say NO

Websters Dictionary Definition of Sequestration:

In law, a writ authorizing a law-enforcement official to take into custody the property of a defendant in order to enforce a judgment or to preserve the property until a judgment is rendered. In some civil-law jurisdictions, contested property may be deposited with a third party until it is determined to whom it properly belongs.

Breaking%20Down%20the%20Sequester%20Pie%20Chart

Image above from the BiPartisan Policy Center

Sign this petition http://signon.org/sign/recall-the-dc-535 and like this FB page. 

If the Sequester kicks in, it is because the Congress has demonstrated a persistent inability to do its job as set forth in the Constitution. Therefore they should be recalled as a body.

However, as recall elections of federally-elected officials are not permitted, we the undersigned declare this Congress and its members illegitimate, and state our intention to remove every member from office, regardless of party affiliation, in the next election.

Do your job. Or go home.

Also Go LIKE this FB page:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Recall-the-DC-535/543177652368994

To the people who are looking for jobs this sequestration is very real. The economy is extremely fragile. This is already having effects. It is unbelievable to have this acually going to occur, mostly this affects the poor and elderly.

The solution in my humble opinion, elect women up and down the ticket. No more men in office til they can play fair with others.

March 1, 2013 at 10:05 AM in Candidates & Races, Corporatism, Current Affairs, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Republican Party, Sen. Martin Heinrich, Sen. Tom Udall, Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, January 04, 2013

Senators Introduce Rules Resolution to Restore Senate Debate and Accountability

Press release from Senator Udall's office:

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) today introduced a resolution to enact meaningful Senate rules reforms that would end filibuster abuse and restore debate to the chamber.

In accordance with Article 1, section 5 of the Constitution, a majority of senators have the power to adopt or amend the operating rules of the chamber at the beginning of a new Congress, a procedure known as the Constitutional Option. Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the Senate will remain in the first legislative day of the 113th Congress after the Senate reconvenes on Jan. 22 to allow debate on the rules reforms.

The unprecedented abuse of the filibuster and other procedural rules has resulted in endless gridlock on legislation and the consideration of nominations, which made the 112th Congress one of the most unproductive of all time. The trio’s proposed reforms would protect the rights of the minority while expediting the consideration of legislation and nominations.

For a fact sheet and to read the resolution submitted by the senators, click here and here.

“We have the power to change the Senate from being a graveyard for good ideas, to an institution that can respond effectively to the challenges facing our nation,” said Udall. “Our proposal is simple, limited and fair. We make reasonable changes to nominations and conference committees and do away with the status quo of stealth and silent filibusters that prevents the Senate from getting its work done.”

”These last two years have created an unprecedented sense among the American people that Congress isn’t measuring up to the needs of our time,” Merkley said. “The filibuster, once used only on issues of personal principle, is now used as an instrument of partisan politics. It hurts our ability to take on the big challenges we face as Americans. And we need to fix it. We must put an end to the secret, silent filibuster that is haunting the Senate.”

“The abuse of the filibuster in recent years has fundamentally changed the character of the Senate and our entire system of government,” said Harkin. “While I believe that a majority of the people’s representatives should be able to act, at the very least, if the right to filibuster is going to be maintained, Senators should have to actually make arguments, debate, and deliberate. Senators should have to obstruct in public, and be held accountable for that obstructionism.”

A key component of the senators’ proposal is the “talking filibuster.”

Today, a senator can filibuster legislation or a nominee with a simple phone call. This raises the threshold for the Senate to debate a bill, or confirm a nominee, from a simple majority to three-fifths of the Senate, and the senator is not required to publicly state his or her objection. The proposed reforms will require a senator to speak on the floor in order to filibuster, greatly increasing public accountability and requiring time and energy if the minority wants to use this tool to obstruct the Senate.

To illustrate why the rules must be reformed, the senators point to the skyrocketing use of the filibuster in recent decades as a tool of the minority party to block votes on legislation, judicial vacancies and presidential appointees. Since its inception, use of the cloture vote has evolved from a rarity, perhaps seven or eight times during a congressional session, to what is now the standard of business in the Senate. Since 2006, the filibuster has been used almost 400 times.

The rules reform package includes four provisions that would do the following:

  1. Eliminate the Filibuster on Motions to Proceed: Clears a path to debate by making motions to proceed not subject to a filibuster, but providing two hours of debate.
  2. Require a Talking Filibuster: Forces Senators who filibuster to actually speak on the floor, greatly increasing public accountability and requiring time and energy if the minority wants to use this tool to obstruct the Senate.
  3. Expedite Nominations: Reduces post-cloture debate on nominations from 30 hours to 2 hours, except for Supreme Court Justices (for whom the current 30 hours would remain intact).
  4. Eliminate the Filibuster on Motions to Establish a Conference Committee: Reduces the steps to establish a conference committee from three motions to one, and limits debate the consolidated motion to 2 hours.

January 4, 2013 at 11:12 AM in Filibuster, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bingaman, Udall Seek Answers on REAL ID

From Senator Udall:

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide New Mexicans with immediate assurances that their travel plans early in the new year will not be disrupted by a federal law governing drivers' licenses.

While the senators support strengthening the standards governing IDs, they are concerned that as many as 38 states - including New Mexico - will not be able to meet the January 15, 2013 deadline to comply with the law. DHS has previously told the senators that New Mexico drivers' license holders will still be able to travel domestically and enter federal buildings using the state licenses but has not made a public announcement of its plans regarding REAL ID implementation.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the senators said enforcing the January 15 deadline could cause a significant disruption in air travel. In their letter, the senators urged DHS to quickly clarify its plans regarding the implementation of the REAL ID Act:

"The lack of guidance by the Department of Homeland Security is causing a great deal of anxiety for our constituents, who are seeing news reports that they may need a passport in order to fly on domestic flights after January 15. We have been expecting an announcement that your Department will extend the deadline or delay enforcement of the Act, but to date there has been no statement either way. Such delays mean that many people may alter or cancel their travel plans or bear the expense of obtaining a passport they do not need," Bingaman and Udall wrote.

In 2005, Congress passed legislation -- called the REAL ID Act -- requiring states to tighten requirements related the issuance of drivers' licenses because they are used as a standard form of identification for a variety of federal purposes, including air travel. In 2009, DHS extended the REAL ID Act compliance deadline until January 15, 2013.

"If the Department intends to extend the deadline, please make such an announcement immediately. If the Department does not intend to provide such an extension, please issue a public statement as soon as possible to reassure the traveling public that you will work to mitigate the adverse impact of REAL ID," Bingaman and Udall wrote.

The full text of the letter is available here.

December 20, 2012 at 09:15 AM in Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Udall, Grijalva Highlight Taxpayer Losses, Lack of Needed Data Revealed in New Oil and Mining Report

Press release from Senator Udall's office:

A report released this morning by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), originally requested by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), describes glaring shortfalls in the data publicly available on hardrock minerals and highlights lost revenue from extraction on federal lands.

In 2011, Udall and Grijalva requested the report from GAO to identify the amount and estimated dollar values of minerals extracted from federal land. The report examined available data on minerals extracted from land administered by the Department of Interior, which includes 700 million acres of federal land, 57 million acres of Indian lands, and 1.8 billion acres below offshore water. The full report is available here.

In its report, GAO concluded it could not estimate the available data on the amounts, types or values of so-called locatable minerals – such as gold, silver, copper and uranium – that are mined from federal lands each year because the 1872 Mining Law provides no royalties for the public. The law, which still governs hardrock mineral extraction, does not require mining companies to disclose how much they extract, where such minerals are sold or what the overall value of each mining operation is, even for multi-billion-dollar mining operations conducted on federal land.

"This report confirms what we've been saying all along – that we need to reform the mining law of 1872," Udall said. "Hardrock minerals are natural resources that belong to the American people, and we need to make sure we are getting the best return on what should be an investment – not a giveaway."

The report also details the value of minerals – including oil, natural gas, and coal – that are subject to lease and administered by the federal Office of Natural Resource Revenue. Although royalties are paid on these minerals, the report details a discrepancy between the amounts actually paid in royalties – which GAO calls the effective royalty rate – and the rates set out in existing law.

“We’ve been hearing from conservatives that we need fewer hours at national parks, less reclamation of valuable lands, fewer services for park visitors and a whole gamut of supposedly necessary cutbacks,” said Grijalva, the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “Well, now we know we’ve been leaving a huge pot of money on the table that could change all that. There’s no reason to keep these extraction and royalty laws out of date. At the very least we need disclosure so American taxpayers know what is being taken from their lands. Keeping the public and Congress in the dark any longer about what’s going on with federal property doesn’t serve any public purpose, and it should end."

“There’s a simple legislative fix for this big hole in the federal government’s revenue stream, and it’s only fair that companies benefiting from access to public lands pay their fair share,” Grijalva added. “The Department of Interior should continue to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and Congress should make sure disclosure a priority, and then we can talk about how to make sure the American people financially benefit from the sale of public minerals the way they should have been all along.”

Grijalva is a cosponsor of H.R. 3446, formally known as the Fair Payment for Energy and Mineral Production on Public Lands Act, which would set a 12.5 percent royalty rate on hardrock minerals. He has said he looks forward to supporting and strengthening an updated version in the upcoming Congress.

"I hope this report can be a catalyst for discussion about reform, but at a minimum it shows we need better disclosure on extraction of our natural resources," Udall said. "Both parties want to solve our economic challenges and make government more efficient for the taxpayers – here's an opportunity to do both. We should be able come together on this issue, and I look forward to making that case to my colleagues in the next Congress."

Udall is a member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.

December 12, 2012 at 10:25 AM in Environment, Mining, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wind Tax Credits Set to Expire: Congress Must Reinvest in New Mexicans' Green Future

Wind Energy in New Mexico Prevents as Much Global Warming Pollution as Taking 232,000 Cars Off the Road Each Year


Video above is Rikki Seguin of Environment NM presenting the report of the benefits of NM Wind Tax Credits in very simple powerful terms.

On November 28, last Wednesday, DFNM attended a press conference held by Environment New Mexico at Alvarado Urban Farm, the Gardens on the North side of the sustainably designed Silver Gardens Apartments located at 100 Silver Ave. SW Albuquerque, NM 87102.

As this summer’s extreme drought and its aftermath prompt more New Mexicans to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Environment New Mexico released a new Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center report that shows that New Mexico’s current power generation from wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 232,000 cars off the road per year. Additionally, the Environment New Mexico report shows that wind power saves enough water to meet the needs of 11,600 New Mexicans.

IMAG0411

Environment New Mexico was joined by Commissioner Jason Marks, Public Resources Commission (PRC) District 1, and Albuquerque-based pulmonologist Dr. Dona Upson in releasing the Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, and touting wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow. The speakers urged Congress to extend critical federal incentives for wind power—the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC)—before they expire at the end of the year.

“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for New Mexicans,” said Rikki Seguin of Environment New Mexico. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”

IMAG0418
Wind Turbine mounted on roof of Silver Garden Apts.

If wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016, New Mexico would reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 154,000 cars off the road and would save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 7,700 New Mexicans.

New Mexico has at least 13,000 megawatts of commercially-viable wind power waiting to be developed that could be providing clean electricity to homes and businesses across the Western U.S. without harmful emissions and without consuming our precious water supplies,” said Commissioner Marks. “A multi-year renewal of the PTC is a key component for realizing this potential.”

The report also outlined that today’s wind energy in New Mexico is delivering results for public health, by avoiding 1,830 tons of smog-causing pollution and 340 tons of soot pollution.

“We need to increase the environmental and health benefits of wind energy by increasing wind power in our state,” said Dr. Upson. “With so many New Mexicans suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and because of the disproportionate impact of air pollution on children's lungs, the clean air benefits of wind power can help improve and save lives.”

New Mexico’s successful development of wind energy results largely from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards -- requiring utilities to provide 20% of their power from renewable energy by 2020 and the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country and is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit —expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for New Mexican’s on the table.

Despite the benefits of wind energy and widespread public support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are vigorously opposing the PTC and ITC.


Rikki Seguin summary stated above and below. Fight on Udall and Bingaman.

“As our state is still healing from severe drought, we must invest wisely in a future with cleaner air, fewer extreme weather events, and smart use of our water resources,” said Seguin of Environment New Mexico. “Time is running out. We thank Senators Udall and Bingaman for supporting clean, renewable wind power and urge them to do everything they can to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year. Our clean air, water, and children’s future depend on it.”

Environment New Mexico is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future. Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces by investigating problems, crafting solutions, educating the public and decision-makers, and helping the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.

December 5, 2012 at 07:45 AM in Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Good News and Bad News for the National Defense Authorization Act 2013

Senator Tom Udall and Senator Jeff Bingaman released the following press statement "Udall, Bingaman Offer Amendments to Defense Authorization Act" highlighting amendments they introduced and passed to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2013.

These are very positive amendments for the state of New Mexico. Below are quotes from Udall and Bingaman.

"With these amendments, we are ensuring New Mexico is a leader in the 21st century clean energy economy, and at the forefront of the national security achievements being made at our national labs and within the defense community," Udall said. "Our biofuels amendment is especially important to national security and businesses in our state so I'm glad we were able to get one over the finish line today."

"The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the most important bills for New Mexico because it helps fund our national labs and our military installations. I am especially glad that the Senate adopted our amendment to allow the Pentagon to invest in all types of fuels - including biofuels -- for its fleets. The Defense Department is a major consumer of fuel, and the more homegrown, cleaner-burning fuel it purchases the better off we will be," said Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

However, there remains troubling language within NDAA 2013 regarding laws of Detention. The HuffPost has a good write up of this: Senators Make Bid To End Indefinite Detention In NDAA. An excerpt:

A bipartisan group of senators made a bid Wednesday to end the indefinite military detention of Americans in the United States.

Declaring that a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 put the country on a path to repeat the shame of World War II's internment camps, they argued the offending language should be stricken in this year's defense bill.

The authority to detain anyone on suspicions that they backed Al Qaeda was codified in law for the first time in the NDAA last winter, although the two most recent White House administrations have asserted since 2001 that the military has always had that authority, stemming from Congress' Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed after the 9/11 attacks.

Senator Rand Paul had this to say about the indefinite detention, "If we give up our rights, have not the terrorists won?" Paul said. "If we relinquish our rights because of fear, what is it exactly that we are fighting for?"

One last thing in this monster bill. The cost of this war machine bill does not seem to be in any dialog at all. Click on this link and go to page 597 to see the tables of what we are paying for within this bill. Make sure you are sitting down. One because it is 70 pages long and the other because it is billions and billions of dollars. Our tax dollars, line after line, page after page. Descriptions of who knows what. Who goes through these items? An example below, the numbers are in thousands of dollars.

MATERIAL HANDLING EQUIPMENT

172 ROUGH TERRAIN CONTAINER HANDLER (RTCH) ....... 0 0

173 FAMILY OF FORKLIFTS ................5,895

174 ALL TERRAIN LIFTING ARMY SYSTEM ......... 0 0

TRAINING EQUIPMENT

175 COMBAT TRAINING CENTERS SUPPORT ....... 104,649

176 TRAINING DEVICES, NONSYSTEM .................. 125,251

177 CLOSE COMBAT TACTICAL TRAINER ............ 19,984

178 AVIATION COMBINED ARMS TACTICAL TRAINER ........ 10,977

179 GAMING TECHNOLOGY IN SUPPORT OF ARMY TRAINING ... 4,056

What are these things and why do we need them? Why are'nt we as a nation screaming about this list of killing devices or training of killers. Meanwhile we judge the person on foodstamps? Or punish the people on unemployment. One word comes to mind, unsustainable.  

November 29, 2012 at 04:55 PM in Military Affairs, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Senator Udall Announces $275,000 in NEA Grants for NM Arts

Today U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that New Mexico will receive $275,000 in matching grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The first major round of FY 2013 grants will help support nine music, theater and visual arts projects around the state.

“The arts are an important part of New Mexico’s culture, tradition and tourism economy,” said Udall. “These grants will provide valuable support for projects that both inspire and enrich our lives and make New Mexico a first-class destination for the arts.”

In this round of grants, the NEA will award over $23 million, including over $2 million in arts education projects. In total, more than 830 organizations in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will receive funding.

Udall is a member of the Senate Cultural Caucus, which works to support the arts and humanities in Congress. The NEA was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent federal agency.

Projects receiving grants are:
Albuquerque:
$10,000 – NewArt New Mexico, Inc. to support JOURNEYS/Global Dance Fest.
$22,500 - Outpost Productions, Inc. to support the 8th annual New Mexico Jazz Festival.
$35,000 – Working Classroom, Inc. to support Multicultural Street Conservatory.
$35,000 - University of New Mexico Main Campus to support print making residencies for Native Americans and Australian Aborigines at the Tamarind Institute in NM, and Northern Editions in Darwin, Australia.
Angel Fire:
$20,000 – Music at Angel Fire, Inc. to support Music from Angel Fire’s 30th Anniversary Chamber Music Festival.
Santa Fe:
$30,000 – Parallel Studios Inc. to support currents 2013.
$42,500 – Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival Ltd. to support the 41st annual Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
$60,000 – Santa Fe Opera to support a new production of Oscar.
$20,000 – Southwestern Association for Indian Arts to support the Santa Fe Indian Market.

November 27, 2012 at 03:44 PM in Arts, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYT Editorializes on Senator Tom Udall's Filibuster Reform Efforts

On November 12th New York Times ran an editorial “A New Chance for the Senate.”

Filibuster history 001The New York Times once again reaffirmed its support for U.S. Sen. Tom Udall's efforts to alleviate gridlock and filibuster abuse. The chart to the right is a history of filibuster use. This chart alone is proof positive that our current modern republicans have no intention on doing what is right for America in 2012.

The last paragraph of the editorial talks about the newly elected Senators. Our own NM Senator Elect Martin Heinrich is one of these gentleman. Senator elect Heinrich has stated he is very much in favor of filibuster reform, "I support Senator Tom Udall's efforts to reform the filibuster through the constitutional option. I look forward to working alongside Senator Udall to ensure that the Senate rules do not result in gridlock or prevent vital legislation from moving forward."

The proposal by Sen. Tom Udall and Sen. Jeff Merkley presented Nov 12, 2012 can he seen here.

Following are excerpts from the editorial:

“In May, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, was furious at yet another obstructionist filibuster by Senate Republicans. He admitted then that he was wrong in 2011 not to change the Senate’s rules when he had a chance,” wrote the Times.

“’These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t,’ he said, referring to Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who came up with a plan to reduce filibuster abuse that he rejected. ‘They were right. The rest of us were wrong, or most of us, anyway. What a shame.’”

“It was a shame, a missed opportunity that helped give Republicans a big cudgel over the last two years. But now Mr. Reid has a chance to rectify that mistake. In January, at the beginning of the next session of the United States Senate, Democrats can vastly improve the efficiency of Congress and reduce filibuster abuse with a simple-majority vote. This time they need to seize the moment.”

"In the last two Congressional terms, Republicans have brought 275 filibusters that Democrats have been forced to try to break. That is by far the highest number in Congressional history, and more than twice the amount in the previous two terms."

"Every new crop of senators brings the potential for moving away from hoary rules and traditions that have virtually crippled American lawmaking. Next year, 12 new senators will join the chamber, only three of whom are Republicans. Many of the others are younger, more liberal and more feisty than the ones they replaced, and several have already expressed support for ending legislative abuse. They should make sure that Harry Reid knows how they feel, so he doesn’t suffer another pang of regret."       

Read previous editorials by The New York Times on filibuster reform here and here.

November 27, 2012 at 10:44 AM in Filibuster, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NM Senator Udall Advocates for Constitutional Amendment at Hearing

From Senator Tom Udalls office:

Tom udall at hearingPhoto above: Senator Udall testifying at hearing

At a committee hearing on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) built support for the constitutional amendment he is sponsoring to give Congress the authority to undo dangerous Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and rein in the unprecedented flood of secret money in the campaign finance system.

"Money has poisoned our political system," Udall said. "We, as Americans, believe in government 'of the people, by the people, for the people' – and so we must work to put in place a constitutional amendment that will restore integrity to our elections and the legislative process."

 
Click above to see video of Udall at today's hearing.

In November 2011, Udall introduced S.J. Res. 29, a proposed amendment to allow Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money, including restricting independent expenditures by so-called “Super PACs”. It would give the states the same authority to regulate campaign finance at their level. Udall’s amendment currently has 23 cosponsors.

Legislatures in six states, including New Mexico, have called on Congress to send an amendment to the states for ratification. "Over the past few months, the unfair influence exerted by Super PACs has become abundantly clear to voters in New Mexico – and they are calling for campaign finance reform. Our Founders did not intend for elections to be bought and paid for by secret donors and special interests. My amendment simply puts our elections back in the hands of ‘we the people’,” Udall said.

At the hearing, Udall noted the long and bipartisan history of support for constitutional amendments dealing with campaign finance. Since 1983, bipartisan proposals similar to Udall’s have been introduced in almost every Congress.

“James Madison argued that the U.S. Constitution should be amended only on ‘great and extraordinary occasions’,” Udall said. “I believe we have reached one of those occasions. I know amending the Constitution is difficult. And it should be. But I believe the growing momentum demonstrates that this is the right time for Congress to act," said Udall. "Our elections no longer focus on the needs and interests of individual voters, but are instead shaped by multi-million dollar ad campaigns funded by special interest groups with unlimited resources. Americans’ right to free speech should not be determined by their net worth.”

The hearing included testimony from other members of Congress and outside witnesses before the Senate Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, was titled “Taking Back Our Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs”.

Click here to view the legislative text of Senator Udall’s amendment.

July 24, 2012 at 04:23 PM in Citizens United, Corporatism, Sen. Tom Udall, U.S. Constitution, video | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

One Year Later: Udall Visits Santa Clara Pueblo Burn Scars

Santa clara udallOn Saturday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall toured areas of Santa Clara Pueblo (SCP) devastated by the 2011 Las Conchas Fire for an update on the status of clean up and restoration efforts.

To view photos of the visit, click here.

Udall visited sites burned by the Las Conchas fire with SCP officials including Governor Walter Dasheno, Lieutenant Governor Bruce Tafoya and Forestry Director Michael Chavarria. Representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation were also on hand.

On the tour of the canyon, Udall saw sediment removal sites, two of the Pueblo’s four ponds, high activity tributaries and debris flow.

“As we continue to experience devastating wildfires across the west,” said Udall, “it is evident that the aftermath, flash flooding in particular, is causing emergency situations that are worse than the fire itself. The restoration efforts of Santa Clara Pueblo are ongoing, and I want to underscore the need for all of the federal agencies involved to work as a team with the Pueblo to make sure we provide maximum assistance.”

The flooding that followed last year’s fire washed out Pueblo roads, destroyed stream beds and transferred an estimated 388,000 cubic yards of sediment into SCP’s four ponds, rendering them useless in the absorption of flood water. Much of the pueblo’s efforts have focused on rebuilding roads and the removal of hazardous trees and sediment.

Udall also heard about a setback in the progress of sediment removal when a flash flood refilled the ponds with new sediment, underscoring the need for continued cleaning and restoration efforts to prevent future catastrophic flooding.

July 8, 2012 at 08:21 AM in Environment, Land Issues, Sen. Tom Udall, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 06, 2012

07/06: New Mexicans to Deliver Thank You Cards to Senators for Protecting Public Health

On Friday, July 6, scores of New Mexicans will deliver giant “thank you cards” to Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall for protecting public health by voting against Senator James Inhofe’s dangerous legislation that sought to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently-finalized Mercury & Air Toxics Standard for power plants. The Senate rejected the measure on June 20, which attempted to bar implementation of the new safeguard as well as preclude the EPA from ever issuing similar standards to protect people from toxic mercury in the future.

The Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington ranks among the worst coal-fired power plants in the nation for high levels of mercury emissions. According to the EPA, the Mercury & Air Toxics Standard will prevent up to 24 premature deaths while creating up to $200 million in health benefits in 2016.

WHO: Scores of New Mexicans and several local, community/public interest organizations
WHAT: Delivery of giant “thank you cards” to Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall signed by New Mexicans from all walks of life including physicians, elected officials, and faith leaders
WHEN: Friday, July 6, 2012 from 1pm-2pm
WHERE: Offices of Senator Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall in downtown Albuquerque
· 1pm, Senator Bingaman, 625 Silver Avenue, SW, 87102 (north side of Silver Ave, between 6th & 7th streets)
· 1:30pm, Senator Udall, 219 Central Avenue, NW, 87102 (north side of Central Ave, between 2nd & 3rd streets)
VISUALS: Giant “thank you cards”, Colorful and handmade signs, and Lots of people

July 6, 2012 at 06:28 AM in Environment, Events, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 05, 2012

One Year Later: Udall Visits Wallow Fire

Udall wallow fireThis past Tuesday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (photo from Sen.Udall) visited areas impacted by the 2011 Wallow Fire in Catron County to discuss restoration efforts, preventive measures against future large-scale wildfires and the lasting impacts it has had on the community.

To view photos of the visit, click here.

“It's been one year since the Wallow Fire raged through New Mexico and Arizona," said Udall. "As we prepare to address the aftermath of the most recent blazes, it’s important to review the recovery process from last year's fires, the lessons we have learned and how we can better prepare for the next.”

Udall toured Wallow Fire burn sites with Forest Service officials and local ranchers. They discussed the Forest Service’s work to remove hazardous trees, control erosion and thin the forest to prevent future large-scale wildfires from occurring. Udall also heard from local ranchers about the Wallow Fire’s damaging impacts on the the watershed, grazing and the local economy as a whole.

Wallow fire
Photo above shows progress made (from Sen. Udall)

“I am impressed by the work that has been done and encouraged by the honest and productive conversation between the Forest Service and area ranchers. Post-fire effects, like flooding and erosion, can cause more harm than the fire itself and, as a result, our ranchers and tourism industry are hurting. It's important for people to know that over 3 million acres of Gila Wilderness remains untouched and open for business. I encourage them to come visit and support the local economy," said Udall.

Last year, the Wallow fire burned over 538,000 acres before it was fully contained on July 8, 2011. This year, the record-breaking Whitewater-Baldy Fire in Catron County and the Little Bear Fire in Lincoln County have burned approximately 298,000 acres and 44,000 acres.

Based on concerns in the state, Udall cosponsored legislation with Sen. Bingaman to eliminate the 30-day waiting period for flood insurance coverage to take effect after a policy is purchased. The legislation was included in the Flood Insurance Bill that passed the Senate on June 29.

This week, Udall is touring several sites impacted by last year’s Wallow and Las Conchas fires to examine the long-term impacts and the implications for the current record-breaking wildfire season. Saturday, he will visit Santa Clara Pueblo to tour areas impacted by the Las Conchas Fire with Pueblo Governor Walter Dasheno and former Governor J. Michael Chavarria. The tour will include a visit to the pueblo’s sediment removal project and high activity tributaries and debris flow.

July 5, 2012 at 08:20 PM in Environment, Land Issues, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)